As previously mentioned, we have no idea how long P.J. Hairston will be suspended. UNC AD Bubba Cunningham shed the most light on the subject thus far during a faculty retreat in August, telling a staffer Hairston would play this season, "but not all the games," according to CollegeBasketballTalk.
That really narrows it down...
So for an unknown amount of time, someone will have to fill in for Hairston at the small forward spot. But who could possibly be the impact player Williams needs at the 3?
It's tough to fathom anyone on this squad providing the offensive, defensive, physical and emotional impact of the junior wing. There are quite a few Tar Heels on the roster who could help fill the void, though.
The first consideration may have to go to Brice Johnson, even though he is actually a power forward. As a freshman, he was third on the team in field-goal percentage behind centers Joel James and Desmond Hubert. He also had more attempts than those two players combined.
What's more impressive is that he averaged one point every 1.96 minutes. That was better than anyone else on the team except—wait for it—P.J. Hairston.
Due to the depth at the 4 and 5 positions, Johnson gained some valuable experience at the 3 this summer during pickup games. If he improves even more this season, Johnson could definitely help fill that void on the scoreboard.
However, he was a liability at times on defense, and it will probably be even harder on the sophomore to guard natural small forwards who will run him all over the court.
That's where another rising sophomore, J.P. Tokoto, comes in. There are many questions about this young man's offensive game, but there isn't much to question defensively. When he wasn't making rookie mistakes, which were rare, he looked like the best defender on the court.
Nobody has his lateral quickness or hops, though incoming freshman Isaiah Hicks may be close. Another plus is that the 3 is Tokoto's natural position, unlike for Hicks or Johnson.
Tokoto has been working hard over the summer to solidify his shooting, but we won't know how much he has improved until he's put in a game situation.
Hicks would be another possibility with his high activity, defensive prowess and advanced dribbles. However, he'll really have to impress Coach Williams to leapfrog a couple sophomores.
As far as I can tell, there is at least one more option Ol' Roy can go with. It's been talked about from the time he recruited Nate Britt that the freshman could team up with Marcus Paige in a dual-point set. That would allow fifth-year senior Leslie McDonald to slide to the 3-spot.
That could be a pretty potent lineup, as long as Paige and McDonald are sinking their treys.
As many options as Williams will have, you can expect this to be an ongoing trial through the first few games.